Belgium,  Germany

Day Trip from Belgian-German border: the Picturesque Monschau

Are you looking to visit a small fairytale like town, one steeped in history and charm? Well, Germany’s town of Monschau is the place to visit.

Tucked away in the hills of the Eifel region lies a historic and picturesque town which has remained virtually untouched over the past several centuries. Considered to be the most beautiful town in this region, Monschau makes you feel like you have stepped back in time, with its small winding cobble-stoned streets and its half-timbered buildings alongside the meandering Rur River. Sitting on the border between Belgium and Germany, this makes a perfect daytrip from either destination.

History tells us that until 1918, Monschau was actually known as Montjoie (in French), as it sits just 2 km from the Belgian border. The Burg Monschau (or castle) overlooking the town, originated in the 13th century, fell to ruins in the early 1800s, and what remains today, operates as a youth hostel. There are over 300 buildings that are listed as monuments, thankfully, because the town was left intact after WWII.


Burg Monschau

While staying in Brussels, this made for an easy daytrip, and it is only 30 minutes from Aachen, another beautiful historic town in Germany. Driving from Belgium to Germany brings you through dense forest for about 2 kms and then you realize you have crossed the border. You will need to park just outside the town, but it is only a short walk until you come across a small footbridge brimming with flowers presenting you wonderful views of the beginning of the town. 

One of the first historic buildings you will notice is Rotes Haus (or Red House). Dating back to 1756, it was the former home of the Scheibler family, who were prominent cloth merchants. Today, it is a small private museum that you may wish to visit. Beyond here, you will be immediately struck by the vast number of cafes for such a small town. All of them look equally charming and offer a delicious selection of kaffee kuchen (or coffee and cake). So how do you decide? We choose the Lütticher Hof, as it has a lovely terrace at the back which overlooks the rustling Rur River.

Discovering this town was famous for its mustard was an added bonus, as I do love my gourmet mustards. The Mustard Mill, dating back to 1882, is one of the last historic mills in Germany, and it continues to produce the traditional recipe, along with 19 other varieties. To visit the historic mill, it is a 15-minute walk up the hill or you will find a small shop in town where you can sample and buy their 19 unique flavours of garlic, horseradish, honey, curry, tomato, and many more. We walked away with 2 jars, and even though the mustard is long gone, I have kept the lovely pottery-style jars as they are just too nice to throw away.

Although this is a small town, and you could walk through its entirety within a half an hour, you will find you can easily spend half a day here just persuing all the different shops. Walking up the hill to the castle affords you wonderful views of the grey rooftops below. After strolling the town for a while, we decided to sit down for a late lunch in the Markt (or market square) for some traditional German food and beer.

Undeniably, our visit to Monschau did not disappoint. It is definitely one of the most quintessential, picturesque German towns I have ever visited; and I have seen a lot! It is back on my bucket list to return again for the Christmas market some day, I can only imagine how magical it must be.

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A Picturesque Village of Monschau Germany sits close to the Belgian border |
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    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Lynne for taking the time to comment. I do too, small, charming villages are the best.

  • Julie

    Looks so idyllic! I’ve actually been in the area, but I’ve never heard of this town. Definitely keeping this in mind for the next time I’m in the area:)

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Julie! Appreciate you taking the time to comment. Yes, definitely when you are in the area next, you have to stop in. You won’t regret it!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Adele for your kind compliment. Appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

  • Martina

    Honestly, I didn`t know anything about this marvelous place before! Thank you so much for sharing this insider tipp – I put this lovely little city Monschau on my bucket list. All your pics are so beautiful – You really make me wanna go and visit this jewel.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I am so glad Martina you were inspired by Monschau and now have added it to your travel list. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Mei and Kerstin

    We spent a weekend in Monschau to visit its Christmas market a month ago, because one of my colleagues who’s from the German community in Belgium told us that it’s one of the most picturesque villages in the region. And she was right. 🙂 However, it was too cold (or maybe we were just too lazy) to walk up to the castle. It’s good to know that it’s actually a youth hostel now. We would have walked there for nothing! haha..

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Oh how fortunate are you to have spent more time there and also during the Christmas market. I want to return for that very purpose. Thanks for commenting.

  • Darah

    Wow! What a beautiful town. I really love that there’s still a working mustard mill from 1882 (and I would totally keep the jars too!) How far would you say it is from Brussels? I may have to add this to our places to visit.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks for commenting Darah. It is about 90 minuets from Brussels. We made it a day combining this with other areas we wanted to see along the way. It is an easy drive, once you are out of the city. Do add it, you won’t be disappointed. It is a lovely town.

  • Candy

    I love visiting places like this. Small towns have so much history and charm. But, like you, I am a huge fan of gourmet mustard so this alone would bring me to this town. Hoping I can visit someday!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks Candy for taking the time to comment and read the post. If you do decide to visit, don’t do what I did, and that is only bringing home 2 jars! I instantly regretted not buying more. 😊

  • Heather

    I have never heard of Monschau but it is one of the most picturesque towns I have ever seen! Your photography (particularly your composition/angles) is really nice! You mentioned Christmas markets, holy cow I can’t imagine how beautiful it would be then! I would love to see it at Christmas!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks Heather for your kind compliments. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Yes, a return visit at Christmas is in my future!

  • Emmalene

    I absolutely love the old fairy-tale towns and villages and this (and Aachen) are high on my travel wish list! Thank you for the information and the beautiful photos!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Emmalene for taking the time to read my post. I hope you get to see it and Aachen one day soon!

  • Amber

    This is such a beautiful town! It reminds me of Strasbourg in the French/German border. I really need to visit Monschau in the future! Such a beautiful place!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Yes you are right Amber it does look like the buildings in the Alsace region. I hope you get to visit it one day. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Lara Dunning

    Monschau is now on my small town bucket list! Love the old buildings and how they rise up from the river. And, while I’m not a huge mustard fan, I’d totally want to see the mill and sample the products. I’m sure the hubs would find one to take home. While you were there did you notice any lodging that would be good?

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Glad to hear that this post has inspired you to add it to your bucket list! There were a couple of hotels/inns in the town (they are in the upper levels of the building). I don’t recall the names or could comment on the quality, sorry. Another option to explore is to stay in Aachen, which is another picturesque town about 40 minutes north of Monschau. Perhaps more selection.

  • Michael Hodgson

    I LOVE half-timbered houses! And Monschau sounds amazing. You say you have seen a lot in Germany … as have we, but we have not yet experienced Monschau. Have you visited Quedlinburg?

    • The.Holidaymaker

      How could you not love half-timbered houses! I haven’t visited Quedlinburg before, nor that immediate area. You must be recommending it, and will have to add it to my list.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to check out the post.

  • Drew Hannush

    What a fascinating place. It’s amazing this little town survived two world wars! The architecture and colors are crazy. Definitely a place to discover.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks Drew for commenting. Indeed, a city in that was left untouched by the wars is worth visiting to see its original architecture.

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